There’s more to rural business than sales of agricultural commodities.
That’s the message Bert Dening is trying to get out.
A business development officer with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Dening and his department are working with Growing Forward, the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association and Red Deer County to conduct a Jan. 20 workshop on selling into local markets. Scheduled to run all day, the Red Deer event is intended to raise awareness of the opportunities that exist for vendors of food and other products.
“We just think of grain farming and cattle, but there are hundreds of things you can do with regard to different products and adding to products,” said Dening.
The Red Deer workshop, he added, is geared toward people who don’t currently sell to the public, or only do so on a small scale.
“It’s sort of like a 101 course.”
Topics will include local food trends and statistics, marketing channels, opportunities and challenges, regulations and barriers, insurance and food safety, alternate production practices and sources of help. Producers who have already tapped into the local market will also share their stories, said Dening.
Farm families, acreage owners and even urban residents are welcome to attend, he said.
“There are a lot of successful businesses on just a couple acres.”
Dening noted that a growing number of consumers want to buy directly from producers. Meanwhile, many farmers — especially livestock producers — are in need of new sources of revenue.
“We’re targeting people who want to diversify their operation or make a successful business out of direct marketing.”
Farmers’ markets provide good examples of entrepreneurs already taking advantage of local markets, he said. But many of these are older.
“I don’t think a lot of younger people realize all the opportunities that are out there.”
The Red Deer workshop will be the first held in Alberta, with a second planned for Vegreville on Jan. 27.
The cost to attend is $20, or $30 per farm unit or couple. For more information, call Dening at 780-674-8247 or Eileen Kotowich at 780-853-8223. To register, call Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association at 1-800-661-2642.